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  1. #1

    Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    I am very pleased to share with you all a sneak peak of my forthcoming book Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay to be published by the CSIRO. I don't have the exact release date but it should be in the early part of 2017. It is the first of two books that I will publish drawing on my over 25 years of fishing and working on Moreton Bay. I think there is plenty of information that can help a reader gain a deeper understanding of Moreton Bay and perhaps assist with making those that put in the time on the water better anglers.


    Introduction

    The south-east Queensland region, also known as the ‘200 km city’, includes the state capital city of Brisbane and the globally renowned beaches of the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane is the third most populous capital city in Australia, behind Sydney and Melbourne, and just over 3 million people (about one in eight Australians) call south-east Queensland home. The region is experiencing the most rapid urbanisation in Australia; by 2031, the population is expected to reach 4–5 million people. Most of the south-east Queensland population resides within one of the 15 major catchments (with a combined area of ~22 700 km2 ) that drain into Moreton Bay. The Moreton Bay region can be broadly described as extending from the catchments of the Nerang River northwards to Caloundra; westwards to the D’Aguilar range, the Gold Coast hinterland and the upper catchments of the Brisbane River; and eastwards to Moreton and North Stradbroke islands and the reef complexes that run well offshore of these large sand islands.


    The Moreton Bay region is like many coastal catchments around the world, a multiuse environment providing residential, rural, industrial and recreational land, water supply, conservation, biodiversity and natural amenities. Moreton Bay has been, and remains, a very important spiritual place for Indigenous Australians. It is a unique and diverse natural environment and provides enjoyment for the burgeoning population – recreational fishing and boating are key among the many and varied pursuits. Moreton Bay is environmentally noteworthy thanks to several geographical and oceanographical features, which provide a supportive environment for both tropical and temperate species. Moreton Bay is of immense biogeographic interest as it is the meeting point of southern (Peronian) and northern (Solanderian) faunas. The variety of habitats further adds to the faunal diversity. The habitats include coral reefs, seagrass beds of several species, diverse mangrove assemblages and salt marsh. The bay supports a large number of species of global conservation significance, including marine turtles, dugong, dolphins, whales and migratory shorebirds, which utilise the area for feeding and/or breeding. The large adjacent human population and industry, infrastructure and general development puts pressure on the unique and diverse natural environment of Moreton Bay. Land use practices and, hence, direct and indirect impacts, have changed over time in response to variations in human demand. These demands have changed in the new millennium particularly, due to a better understanding of the human impacts on Moreton Bay and the broader community support for implementing change. The natural environment of Moreton Bay and its islands provide food in the form of fisheries resources, construction material, a pathway for consumer goods through shipping and port facilities, and ecotourism and recreational opportunities in various forms. The catchment is also utilised for urban and rural activities. These activities that directly and indirectly benefit the population of south-east Queensland inevitably result in a large number of pressures on the Moreton Bay environment, including direct disturbance or removal of habitat and some animal species, point (e.g. sewage) and non-point (e.g. agricultural runoff) discharges (including nutrients, sediments and toxicants) and alteration of freshwater flows. To understand Moreton Bay, you must look at the Moreton Bay region in its entirety – from the upper catchment to the offshore reefs. You need to understand how the habitats interact, how animals are distributed and how various habitats are utilised.


    You need to understand how people have utilised Moreton Bay past and present, and what the drivers of the various uses are and have been. You need to think about and understand what the existing and emerging pressures are, and how these pressures may be managed and mitigated. To do this, you need to take an interdisciplinary perspective. There has been a significant amount of information published in various forms and on various topics on Moreton Bay, but this book consolidates information that integrates the topics and bridges the various disciplines. It explores the link between people and place in the Moreton Bay region. It investigates how the human population has utilised Moreton Bay in the past and in the present, it considers emerging issues, and it comprehensively explores the biophysical environment of Moreton Bay.


    Chapter 2 examines the geology and geomorphology of Moreton Bay. It describes the evolution of the Bay and its islands, and the processes that have led to Moreton Bay being in its current form. Historical sea level rise, changes in the pattern of riverine input over a geological time-frame, and coastal transport systems that move sand from northern New South Wales northwards are all described in detail. The opening of the Jumpinpin Bar is discussed as a recent geomorphic event (potentially influenced by human activity) that has profoundly influenced the southern Moreton Bay and Gold Coast regions. The natural factors that influence water quality in Moreton Bay are described; this provides an important contextual basis for the discussion of human-induced water quality impacts that are presented in Chapter 8.

    Chapter 3 discusses the human uses of Moreton Bay over time. An examination of the human history of any area such as Moreton Bay clearly highlights how human settlements are influenced by the surrounding biophysical environment, and how human uses and the value of these biophysical attributes change through time. A historical analysis provides an understanding of past pollutant inputs and modifications to habitats, and how the current ecological conditions arose. The chapter commences with a discussion of Indigenous people’s interactions with the Bay before European settlement, early interaction between Indigenous people and early Europeans, and the early European settlement and its expansion up the start of the 20th century. The chapter then focuses on the expanding European settlement in Moreton Bay, a period of substantial modification to the environment, the impacts of which were poorly understood at the time. The period from the start of the 20th century to the start of World War II is described in the context of the transition from a colonial outpost into a growing population centre; the changes this brought to the Moreton Bay region and their associated impacts are discussed. The defence establishments in Moreton Bay during World War II are discussed, and the chapter highlights the fact that many wartime structures are still visible at several locations around Moreton Bay. The chapter then discusses the period from World War II to the present, which incorporates a period of rapid population growth epitomised by the transformation of the Gold Coast region from a sleepy agricultural region into a glittering tourist strip. This transformation resulted in significant changes to the region, including the construction of the Brisbane Airport and expanding port facilities. Both were necessary to accommodate the expanding population and its aspirations, but both have also had profound and largely irreversible impacts on western Moreton Bay, in particular, the mouth of the Brisbane River.


    Chapter 4 describes and discusses the various marine habitats in Moreton Bay, including trends in the quality and extent of these habitats, and their importance for fauna. There is a focus on the historic and current distribution of seagrass meadows, mangroves and salt marshes in Moreton Bay, and the factors that influence their distributions and important ecological roles in the functioning of Moreton Bay. Moreton Bay represents the southernmost mainland distribution of coral habitat in eastern Australia; the chapter describes how Moreton Bay corals are adapted to their habitat, and the significance of Moreton Bay as habitat for hard reef-forming corals. Bare sedimentary environments, including ocean beaches, intertidal flats and subtidal areas are extensive in Moreton Bay, and are discussed. Anthropogenic modifications to Moreton Bay have resulted in habitat changes, such as artificial reefs and coastal infrastructure, which constitute novel habitat for a range of a species. The interlinked nature of the various distinct habitat types is described and examples are given. Chapter 5 delves into the fish and invertebrate communities that utilise the various habitats within Moreton Bay. The phytoplankton and zooplankton communities of Moreton Bay are described, along with the important role of plankton at the base of the food chain. The communities that utilise the vegetated habitats of Moreton Bay are also discussed and the chapter highlights their importance for juvenile animals, including those of fisheries significance. The chapter concludes with a brief review of several relatively common venomous and poisonous animals that people see or interact with in Moreton Bay as, ironically, these animals are iconic and of great public interest.

    Chapter 6 describes the species of conservation significance that utilise Moreton Bay, and how humans historically and currently interact with these species. It presents information on the migratory paths and population dynamics of humpback whales and the use of the Moreton Bay region by various dolphin species. The distribution and population of dugong in Moreton Bay is described, along with the factors that influence it. The unique feeding ecology of dugong in the Bay is also highlighted. The use of Moreton Bay as a foraging habitat for green and loggerhead turtles and a nesting area for loggerhead turtles is described, as is its global significance as a foraging habitat for migratory birds.


    Chapter 7 introduces the commercial and recreational fisheries in Moreton Bay and their general management, along with an overview of the biology and ecology of the key species fished. While there is immense public interest in fisheries, particularly coastal fisheries in highly developed locations, there is frequently little real understanding of the nature and scale of their operations, their impacts and how these impacts are successfully mitigated where necessary. The key species discussed are snapper, yellowfin bream, tailor, blue swimmer crabs, mud crabs, eastern king prawns, sea mullet and whiting. Chapter 8 discusses water quality in Moreton Bay. Past actions have sometimes had considerable impacts on Bay water quality, and the legacies of some are still detectable today. The focus of the chapter is on anthropogenic nutrient input into Moreton Bay, however, water quality considerations extend well beyond this. The formation of acid sulphate soils, their extent in the Moreton Bay region and the linkage between their introduction and fish disease is explained. The chapter also covers water quality impacts from metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, perfluorinated compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides and herbicides, and antifoulants. Fireweed blooms are a relatively recent concern in Moreton Bay, and the information on the causes of the blooms is critically reviewed.
    The chapter concludes with a discussion of the Healthy Waterways initiative, a successful citizen science initiative aimed at improving the water quality of Moreton Bay. The book concludes with a look to the future, including what needs to be done to sustain and improve the health of Moreton Bay in the face of the substantial population increases predicted and the pressure that these and other environmental challenges will place on Moreton Bay.
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  2. #2

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Wow! That will be an awesome read! Thanks for sharing. Next years birthday present maybe... 😏

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Ausfish mobile app

  3. #3

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Where will this be available, Darryl? Looks like a good read.

    Also, apropos of nothing, why do you suppose the tiger shark population has declined dramatically within the bay (especially the northern bay) over the last fifteen years? Do you think urban development would have something to do with it? More turbidity = less sea grass = less dugong = less tigers? I can remember back in the late portion of last century, tigers were a very regular catch on the drumlines off Bribie, but now they are almost non-existent. Vic (Hislop) used to catch them by the dozen each time he went out over the wild banks. Now, very few are seen.

    Would be good to hear your thoughts, as you obviously are attuned to changes within the bay's ecology.

    Cuzza

  4. #4

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    G'day Cuzza,

    Yeah the catches of tiger sharks in south-east Queensland in the SCP in general have showed consistent declines. As is often the case the underlying reasons can be complex. The SCP obviously contributes to mortality and there is some mortality likely from recreational and commercial fishing activities, although much less now in our region. Since they are highly migratory this fishing pressure may be in locations outside our region. Vic Hislop knocked over a lot.Habitat changes may also have contributed although as tiger sharks are not particularly choosy in terms of what they eat.

  5. #5

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Yeah, I know Ben Cropp feels a lot of the blame lies in illegal finning, which could be done outside our waters. I think fishing pressure would now be at a very minimum, given the 1.5m rule. It'll be interesting to see whether or not the implementation of this rule will bring back more numbers in the coming years. From what I can gather, both from fishos on here and pros I know in life, they all say that the whaler numbers are increasing dramatically. Have never had a problem finding them in the bay, myself, so I can't opine to that. Either way it'd be nice to see a return of the big stripies, but only time will tell if that will actually happen.

    Also, did you see the two tigers tagged by Ocearch in the Hervey Bay region? Was great to see their movements, which surprised me, as they stayed pretty local to the area, barring the odd foray out to the Bunkers. Was sad that they met their demise via the drumlines around Bundy, but no surprise, really.

    Cuzza

  6. #6

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    This is going to be one hell of a good read.
    Congratulations Daryl, and Thank You.
    A Proud Member of
    "The Rebel Alliance"

  7. #7

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Quote Originally Posted by cuzzamundi View Post
    Where will this be available, Darryl? Looks like a good read.

    Also, apropos of nothing, why do you suppose the tiger shark population has declined dramatically within the bay (especially the northern bay) over the last fifteen years? Do you think urban development would have something to do with it? More turbidity = less sea grass = less dugong = less tigers? I can remember back in the late portion of last century, tigers were a very regular catch on the drumlines off Bribie, but now they are almost non-existent. Vic (Hislop) used to catch them by the dozen each time he went out over the wild banks. Now, very few are seen.

    Would be good to hear your thoughts, as you obviously are attuned to changes within the bay's ecology.

    Cuzza


    Interesting observation. Wonder if it has anything to do with the demise of whaling. For a lot of years after whaling finished there continued to be reports of large Tigers being seasonal visitors to Tangalooma. Perhaps as these older sharks have died/been caught and with the lack of a seasonal food supply the genetic imprint (if such a thing exists) to visit Moreton Bay has been lost. Just another theory.
    "I soak the worms in rum. The fish love em and the worms die happy"
    "Alcohol is not the solution to your problems...................but then again, neither is milk"

  8. #8

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    That's an interesting point, Scott. Definitely seems feasible. And yeah, I, too, heard about the regular visitors to Tanga's/Lucinda Bay for many years after whaling ceased. The area to the south of Lucinda Bay is absolutely prime for Tigers, but so few are seen anymore. Hear about the odd one being seen, and around Peel and Amity Banks area, and also the Pearl Channel, but nothing like yesteryear in the time of whaling and plentiful food sources (Dugong).

    Cuzza

    Quote Originally Posted by scottar View Post
    Interesting observation. Wonder if it has anything to do with the demise of whaling. For a lot of years after whaling finished there continued to be reports of large Tigers being seasonal visitors to Tangalooma. Perhaps as these older sharks have died/been caught and with the lack of a seasonal food supply the genetic imprint (if such a thing exists) to visit Moreton Bay has been lost. Just another theory.

  9. #9

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    And Darryl, Where can we buy the book, mate?

    Cuzza

  10. #10

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Yes, the whaling station had a very significant influence on the presence of large sharks. The book will be available online and I will have all the details soon.

  11. #11

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Hi all,

    As a couple of you have asked, I now have the details for purchasing the forthcoming book. It is not formally released until 1st August.

    http://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7676/#features

    Daryl

  12. #12

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Brilliant work Mate and I can't even imagine the amount of research involved or the number of cut 'n pastes .......

    But, $70.00 isn't it? Ouch! That might turn a lot of buy-it-now guys away I would fear!

    I'd love to get it, and probably will but seventy bucks?

    Any plans for a CD or eBook in the future?

    Maybe also offer it to the AVCG and VMR units around the SE for sale at their bases? Give them 10% on every sale, book display on sign -in desk?

    Bait and tackle shops? All on consignment as none of them will buy a bunch straight out!

    Get on morning TV shows Mate, easy to do with this top product, local radio stations always after this sort of local knowledge so set up some interviews with them!

    Good luck!

  13. #13

    Re: Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay

    Thanks mate! Unfortunately I had no say in the price. The publisher is experienced and have a whole range of marketing approaches. I have media lined up and will also do google and FB ads. I am pleased that the pre-sale figures are strong already.

    There will almost certainly be an ebook as this is standard.My previous book on fisheries management sold sold well in hard copy but poorly as an ebook.

    On to the next book now......

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